Critical Hospitality Symposium, Critical Hospitality Symposium II: Hospitality IS Society

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Exploring Critical Conceptual Space in Hospitality Higher Education
Kelvin Yihang Zhang

Last modified: 2018-07-02


Within higher education, the notion of criticality (Barnett, 1997), if manifested as transformative critique, is a powerful concept that cultivates students towards becoming critical beings, capable of critiquing disciplinary knowledge, engaging with critical self-reflection, and externalising such criticality as a worldmaking (Hollinshead, 2007) lens towards the reinterpretation of society at large. With such an educational aim, the relationship between the educator and the student, as well as the perception of teaching and learning, are problematised by the educational philosophy of critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970), which rejects the view that education is the neutral and apolitical transmission of knowledge, but encourages the inclusion of an ethico-political perspective in teaching and learning. In terms of hospitality higher education (HHE), despite the emergence of critical management education more than two decades ago, as well as the broader presence of the ‘critical turn’ in social sciences, HHE appears to have insulated itself from such external influences, and continues to operate predominantly under experiential vocationalism, and the emphasis of relevance to industrial demands.

Informed by the field theory of Bourdieu (1988), the theory of pedagogic device (Bernstein, 2000), and the knowledge force-field theorised by Tribe (2006), this paper presents an ongoing doctoral research[1], which attempts to utilise criticality as a research vehicle, to explore how its conceptualisations by hospitality academics are shaped and formed by their intellectual habitus, and the self-reflexive understanding of their roles as educators and researchers of hospitality. By evaluating the conceptual nature and form of criticality, this research study aims to provide a greater understanding of how criticality is manifested within the academic community of hospitality. From such an understanding, it aims to evaluate the possibility of a potential conceptual space, which an ethico-political dimension of criticality (Barnett, 1997) can be developed, and a critical approach informed by critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970) can be incorporated in the teaching and learning of hospitality knowledge.



Barnett, R. (1997). Higher Education: A Critical Business. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity: Theory, Research, Critique. Boston: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Bourdieu, P. (1988). Homo Academicus. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. NY: Herder and Herder.

Hollinshead, K. (2007). ‘” Worldmaking” and the transformation of place and culture: The enlargement of Meethan’s analysis of tourism and global change’. In I. Ateljevic, A. Pritchard, & N. Morgan (Eds.), The critical turn in tourism studies: Innovative research methodologies (pp. 165-196). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Tribe, J. (2006). ‘The truth about tourism’. Annals of Tourism Research, 33(2), 360-381.

[1] Data collection and data analysis completed (55 interviews with hospitality academics in the UK), currently composing findings and will be presented at Critical Hospitality Studies Symposium 2018 if abstract is accepted.

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